With So Many Safety Standards for Action Sports Helmets: What do they mean?
All bicycle helmets sold in the United States must meet the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standard for bicycle helmets. This is mandatory by Federal Law. Bicycle helmets have a sticker inside marking this compliance. However, you'll also find stickers inside other sport-specific helmets (including bicycle helmets) designating additional, voluntary standards the helmet meets.
With all the different helmet safety standards out there, how do you know which ones are important? This article can help you protect your child by educating you about which helmet safety standard(s) apply to the sport(s) your son or daughter enjoys. Whether he or she rides a mountain bike, skiis, snowboards, rides bmx in parks, on roads or rinks, or just in your driveway, they need a proper kids' helmet to help stay safe.
Why Should You Care?
No parent wants their son or daughter to experience head trauma, and helmets help prevent serious head injuries. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends the use of bike and skateboard helmets.
(Check out the excellent AAP article here on the official AAP policy regarding bicycle and skateboard helmet use). Plus, as of 2014, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia require the use of bicycle helmets for children (see this Wikipedia page regarding bicycle helmets in the United States). So, not only is it a good safety practice to wear a bicycle helmet, but 21 states require it by law. Similarly, the AAP states that if a ski or snowboard facility doesn't mandate helmet use, parents should, (AAP Policy regarding ski/snowboard policy). Protect your kid's noggin with a good quality helmet!
What Are the Different Safety Standards?
Common safety standards that are used for kids' helmets include CPSC, ASTM, and the European EN standard. Here's a quick summary of each:
1. The U.S. CPSC (United States Consumer Products Safety Commission) Bicycle Helmet Safety Standard
The U.S. CPSC regulates bicycle helmet safety performance. On February 1, 1999, the U.S. CPSC voted unanimously to issue a new federal safety standard for bicycle helmets. For the first time, one uniform mandatory safety standard that all bike helmets must meet was set. Any helmet sold as a bicycle helmet in the United States MUST meet U.S. CPSC safety standards. A sticker attesting to this fact is required on the bicycle helmet's interior. XSPKids only sells bicycle helmets that meet the US CPSC safety standard.
2. The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standards for Different Helmets
ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. Manufacturers must pay a fee for ASTM testing and certification, and that cost often is passed on to you, the consumer. This additional cost is sometimes why specific helmets aren't tested against ASTM standards.
The different ASTM helmet standards for action-sports helmets are:
To learn (a lot) more about ASTM helmet safety standards (or to purchase a pdf of the ASTM testing process), visit the official ASTM web site.
3. The EN CE Safety Standards
The CE marking indicates that a helmet fulfills the requirements in the European Economic Community (EEC) Directive, 89/686/EEC. Similar to the mandated CPSC standard all bicycles sold in the United States must meet, all bike helmets sold anywhere in Europe must bear the CE mark.
Some of the different CE markings for action sports helmets are:
(Note: in the opinion of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, European safety standards are less stringent than ASTM safety standards.)
4. The Snell Memorial Foundation
The Snell Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education, testing, and development of helmet safety standards. Founded in 1957, the Snell Foundation's standards are usually the most demanding of any helmet certification. Helmets must first pass Snell certification testing by their own technicians to qualify for Snell programs. Samples of these helmets are regularly acquired directly from retailers and distributors and must continue to pass test requirements in order to retain the Snell certification. Similar to the ASTM, the Snell certification is voluntary and the helmet manufacture pays a fee. However, the Snell standard is not widely used by bicycle and snow helmet manufacturers today.
Now You Know More...
Now you know a bit more about the different helmet safety standards. What standard a helmet is designed to meet is an important factor to help you choose the right helmet for your kids. If you already have a kids helmet for the little dude, check the helmet's interior to find out what safety standard your current helmet meets. Every helmet should have a sticker on the inside that lists the helmet safety standards. (Note: You may need to move the fit/comfort pads out of the way to find the sticker.) We list all safety standards a particular helmet meets in the main product description.